How Not To Manage a Project /Technology and Operations Management

Table of contents

Rapid advancements in telecommunication technology have led to increased projects in the area of information systems as businesses seek to embrace latest technologies (Irani et al 2002, pp. 199-211). Today, many organizations are spending a lot of resources in projects pertaining to new technology as way of attaining competitive advantages. Therefore, if such projects fail, it would imply that the organizations would incur serious losses. It is in line with these potential sources of failure of projects that we examine the various issues which Gary Allison faced as the program manager of The Orion Shield Project.

The Technical Issues That Faced Program Manager Gary Allison

One of the issues which faced Gary Allison was technical issues. The program manager did not have any difficulty in obtaining functional support required in coming up with a technical proposal although the manager noted a technical problem (The Orion Shield Project, 2003, p. 1). The manager discovered that the specifications had indicated that the entire components had to function in a normal and in a successful manner within temperatures varying from -65° F to 145° F.

Yet, according to the prevailing tests, it was not possible for the design by the Scientific Engineering Corporation to operate in temperatures above 130° F (The Orion Shield Project, 2003, p. 1). Even after an extensive R& D process, Gary still strongly believed that it was not possible to meet the original specifications without changing the materials which presented a technical challenge.

The other technical issue which faced Gary was to develop raw materials which would finally be accepted by the client (The Orion Shield Project, 2003, p. 6). Similarly, the production manager was faced with the technicality of preparing and test running the raw materials as to provide evidence that no variations would exists between the lab and large-scale productions.

Ethical Issues That Faced Program Manager Gary Allison

The first ethical issue which faced Gary concerned the acceptance to play the role of spearheading the project. The ethical concern in this case was Gary’s awareness that it would not be possible to achieve the project specifications based on the initial design specifications (The Orion Shield Project, 2003, p. 1). In spite of this knowledge, the opportunity which had arisen of being promoted to a higher position so interested Gary to the point to accepting to take up the role of a program manager.

The other ethical issue arises from the verification plan which had been intended to assure the clients that no alterations had been made to the production materials from the research and development laboratories to the manufacturing factories (The Orion Shield Project, 2003, p. 8). Gary acted unethically by claiming that wrong raw materials which had been used had resulted from the fact that employees worked overtime yet the mistake had resulted from changing the original materials.

 Legal Issues That Faced Program Manager Gary Allison

One legal concern which faced Gary was the fact that it would not be possible to achieve the expected results from the test matrix which the technical proposal contained (The Orion Shield Project, 2003, p. 6). It is in this regard that Gary sought to establish the raw material which could comply with the specifications by developing a new strategy in conjunction with the chief engineer in charge of the project.

The fact that Gary lied that discrepancies in material usage resulted from overworking employees yet the materials had earlier been changed also represents a legal issue (The Orion Shield Project, 2003, p. 8). The rationale in this case is that clients can sue Gary for dishonesty. Contrary to the claim that working staff past the usual time was the reason for the mistake, the test results clearly demonstrated that wrong raw materials had been used in the production test runs.

Contractual Issues That Faced Program Manager Gary Allison

The first contractual issue which faced Gary as the program manager was staffing (The Orion Shield Project, 2003, p. 5). This was because Gary had been tasked with the job of biding the program but which did not incorporate the element of staffing. For the SEC to succeed, it had to depend on production operations (The Orion Shield Project, 2003, p. 5). Guided by this rationale, it was quite unfortunate for Gary to learn that the engineering executives were not willing to release their key personnel to the Orion Shield venture.

Other Project Management Issues That Faced Program Manager Gary AllisonResearch has shown that about 31% of projects in the area of ICT are cancelled before they can be accomplished (Henderson & Beaumont, 2003, p. 2). Studies also show that another 53% of the ICT projects exceed the original budgets which had been allocated for them (Henderson & Beaumont, 2003, p. 2). Similarly, more that 70% of the ICT projects fail because the project managers are unable to accomplish the projects within the expected time, within the budget constraints as well as the expected quality (Henderson & Beaumont, 2003, p. 2).

In this case, the manufacturing activities could not be accomplished within the budgeted time. The manufacturing activities delayed for the simple reason that Gary had decided to personally develop the bill for the materials rather than delegating the task as way of cost reduction (The Orion Shield Project, 2003, p. 8). Similarly, Gary had to work within the budget constraint and could not afford to employ more employees since this would have additional cost implications.

The Instances Where Gary Did and Did Not Do Well

The first instance where Gary did well was to inform Larsen that it would not be possible to meet the original design specifications. Gary’s decision was based on the fact that even after a thorough research and development process, Gary was convinced that it would not be feasible to operate the original design material at temperatures beyond 130° F (The Orion Shield Project, 2003, p. 1). It means that to the best of Gary’s knowledge and being honest with the boss, Gary was right to inform Larsen of the real situation on the ground.

The other instance where Gary did well was trying to arrange a meeting with Henry Larsen even though Larsen was always unavailable (The Orion Shield Project, 2003, p. 6). Gary was also clearly committed to the success of the project and literally overworked himself to ensure that the project succeeded. However, Garry should be criticized for delegating all the administrative duties to the office staff.

Although it can be argued that delegation is a good gesture in empowering and motivating staff performance, Gary made a mistake by delegating entirely everything (The Orion Shield Project, 2003, p. 6). As the overall project manager, Garry still needed to exercise some level of control in the administrative duties.  The other area where Gary did not do well was in the area of minutes. It was wrong for Gary to concentrate on presenting all the data without making considerations into the issue of minutes which the clients were justified to request for (The Orion Shield Project, 2003, p. 6).


It is important to note that there are various reasons why a project can fail, the most common being lack of proper planning and unclear responsibilities (Schwalbe, 2000). Gary most probably made a mistake by being so much engrossed in administrative work to an extent of forgetting to visit the research laboratories (The Orion Shield Project, 2003, p. 7). The other wrongdoing for Gary can be seen in the way the project manager attempts to cover up the unexpected results during the verification of production materials.


Henderson, S., & Beaumont, N. (2003). Literature Review – Managing Information and Communication Technology Project Risk. Working Paper Series 43/03 pp.1- 7.
Irani, Z., Sharaif, A., Love, P. E., Kahraman, C. (2002). Applying Concepts of
Fuzzy Cognitive Mapping to Models: The IT/IS Investment Evaluation Process, International Journal of Production Economics, vol. 75, pp. 199-211.
Schwalbe, K. (2000). Information Technology Project Management. Cambridge, USA.
The Orion Shield Project. (2003) The Orion Shield Project – Project Proposal p. 1. Retrieved June 3, 2009 from

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